Kagame to decide on third term bid after referendum, takes swipe at West for criticism

President Kagame has repeatedly dismissed the notion that he intends to tamper with the constitution to cling on to power but critics don't buy his denials

President Kagame has repeatedly dismissed the notion that he intends to tamper with the constitution to cling on to power but critics don’t buy his denials

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda over the weekend told his ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) gathering can not decide on whether or not to run for the third term before the forthcoming referendum on the constitutional amendment.

“The answers you want from me still depend on the outcomes of the referendum, that means I cant decide before it (referendum),”  President Kagame said at his party’s meeting Sunday.

Kagame said there no need to rush to decide on the matter before Rwandans have their say on whether not the country’s constitution should be amended to allow him a third term.

His party members had expected a positive decision from the 58 year-old Rwandan leader to reveal to millions of Rwandans, and to the international community that he was indeed standing for the third term but the wait goes on until after the referendum.

The Rwandan national assembly has already endorsed the draft constitution paving way for Kagame’s third term, and voted for the referendum. According to sources in Kigali, the long awaited referendum is due to take place 18th December, 2015.

As justification for their vote to change the constitution, revise the term limit provision and allow the incumbent a third term,  Rwandan parliamentarians point to the millions of Rwandans who have signed petitions requesting the legislature to amend the constitution.

Critics however, say it Kagame and the ruling RPF who are orchestrating all the legislative processes to prop up the former. Although President Kagame faces no opposition in his potential third term bid, US and the EU have expressed opposition to his presidency post 2017.

The United States and The European Union say the Rwandan leader and his ruling RPF are manipulating the process to ensure he holds on to power in 2017 when his term expires.

“We expect President Kagame to step down at the end of his term in 2017,” Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations told reporters in New York last week adding her country was aware of the “parliamentary maneuverings” taking place in Rwanda.

Echoing Ambassador Samantha Power, The European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in Rwanda, Ms Federica Mogherini, said Thursday “the adoption of provisions that can apply only to one individual weakens the credibility of the constitutional reform process as it undermines the principle of democratic change of government enshrined in Article 23 of the African Charter of Democracy, Elections and Governance.”

In his veiled attack to the United States and the European Union, President Kagame told RPF members in Kigali that Rwanda’s actions do not correspond to the wishes of “other nations.”

“They (other nations) tell us we should have the right to make our own choices, but our choices then become defined as manoeuvring,” Kagame said.

Kagame went on to say “we can be good friends, we can agree to disagree but there is a line when it comes to the interest of Rwandans.”

The Rwandan leader, and former army chief, credited for halting the 1994 Genocide, has been in office since 2000 and he has overwhelmingly won two elections (2003, 2010) but has been effectively running the East African state since the end of the killings in 1994.